Looking for a Summer Read?

Because the summer is not over yet, and if, like me, you still need some sun, visit the world of ‘Three Great Lies’ where it never rains.

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While vacationing in Egypt. . . Jeannette Walker, a cynical scientist jaded by swarms of tour groups and knick-knack shacks, is lured by a teenage tour guide to visit a newly discovered tomb. No other tourists there! Inside the chamber, she tumbles down a shaft and 3000 years back in time. Now, in a world where deities walk the streets and prophecy stinks up the air, Jeannette is desperate for normal and the simple pleasures of sanitation and refrigeration. However, a slave master hawking a cat-headed girl derails her homebound mission, and Jeannette—penniless in this ancient world—steals the girl, bringing down the tireless fury of the slaver. Saddled with a newly awakened mummy and the cat-headed girl, Jeannette, through her unparalleled experience gained from watching spy movies, contrives a plan to free them from the slaver’s ire, but will she have to dive into the belly of the beast to succeed?

See the following link to bag your copy from 6th August.

http://www.amazon.com/Three-Great-Lies-Vanessa-MacLellan-ebook/dp/B010Y96WTO/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1436627974&sr=1-1

Vanessa MacLellan was born and raised in the farmlands of eastern Washington, works as an environmental engineer, and is an avid birder, naturalist, gamer, and runner living in Portland, Oregon. Her website is vanmaclellan.com.

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You can also connect with her at

Twitter: https://twitter.com/McCVan

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/vanessa.maclellan.75

Google+: https://plus.google.com/u/0/113218298408867923612/?rel=author

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Holiday of books and dreams

Back in January Laini Taylor did a cover reveal for the last book in The Daughter of Smoke and Bone Trilogy, Dreams of Gods and Monsters.

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As part of the release day promotion the first 3000 people to order the hardback from Amazon stood a chance to get a signed copy.  Not just signed though – but with a drawing of the story’s main character by the author.  Ha! Though the cynic in me.  I’ll wait for the paperback, easier to read in the bath.

That stance lasted about two hours until I actually saw the picture Laini Taylor had drawn. Awesomeness personified.  So as soon as my manager (who inconveniently sits right behind me with a clear view of my computer screen) went into a meeting I logged on to Amazon and blew that month’s book budget (I’m a bad girl. I need budget.)

All I had to do next was wait until April.  Still the delivery date was in the middle of our ‘decorate the bedroom’ holiday so the book would get delivered straight to my sweaty hands rather than me having to squeeze in an expedition to the nearest Royal Mail depot.

The delivery day came. No book arrived.  Turned out I’d had it delivered to my mum’s house over the bridge in Essex.  So I had to wait to Saturday when, thank you fates, we were going to dinner anyway.

It has been such a long time since I’ve felt like an over excited four-year old and Christmas (about 27 years, I think) but standing in my mum’s kitchen with that book I had some serious dancing butterflies.  I didn’t actually want to open the cover because I would have almost rather not known than known if I wasn’t one of those 3000.  Ridiculous, right? It was like a case of Schrödinger’s signature.

I’m not a four-year old though and it wasn’t Christmas, so I did open the book…

 

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Squeeeee! There was giggling, bouncing about. My boyfriend was torn between shook and terror. Best Easter present ever though and so worth the hardback price, and the fact that I would never risk reading this in the bath anyway.

It’s one to go with my signed copies of Equal Rites and The Red Country.  I wonder if this now makes me a collector and I should make plans to stalk Neil Gaiman with my battered copy of Neverwhere thrust into my bag?

Does anyone else get this excited about getting the signature’s of their writing rock stars? Who do you love and why?

 

 

 

Cover reveal -Chasing Shadows by Tia Bach

If, like me, you’ve been hanging of the edge of a cliff waiting to find out what happens to Reagan next the time is nearly here.

And here is what we can expect from Chasing Shadows the second book in the Tala Prophecy,

 

 

‘Reagan thought one night changed her life forever, but her fate was written long ago.

 

Merging creature and white blood,

One of flame, one of night,

At eighteen years it will commence,

Spiritual warrior and power,

Will bring an end to the lawless ones.

 

A war looms: One that pits brother against brother for werewolf supremacy. Angels and demons will each have a say before a victor is chosen.

With her eighteenth birthday only six months away, time is running out. Reagan must find a way to harness the two powerful, ancient bloodlines coursing through her: Werewolf and Wiccan. Then, she has to figure out her role in the century-old prophecy foretold by her great-grandmother.

However, if Reagan can’t save her family from her most vicious rival, Rafe, the forces of Hell will be unleashed and the war will be over before it starts.’

 

Them’s the facts. The best part of the cover reveal though is, well, the cover. Check out this beauty.

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I love it because it’s just so vibrant, and a little bit sleeping beautyesque.  It was  designed by Jo Michaels: http://jomichaels.blogspot.com/

If you want to find out more about Tia and the release date for Chasing Shadows, then do no more than look below…

About the Author

Tia Silverthorne Bach is an avid reader, sometimes runner, involved wife and mother, and rabid grammar hound in addition to being a multi-genre writer. Her three daughters were born in Chicago, San Diego, and Baltimore; and she feels fortunate to have called many places home. She’s the award-winning co-author of Depression Cookies, a coming of age story written with her mother. Tia’s office is wherever her laptop takes her and any place that’s conducive to allowing a wild imagination like hers to flourish.

 

Connect with Tia

Website: www.tiabach.com

Blog: http://depressioncookies.blogspot.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tia.bach.author

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Tia_Bach_Author

GoodReads: https://www.goodreads.com/TiaBach

 

 

Insecure Writer’s Support Group – April

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It’s time for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group founded by writer and ninja Alex. J. Cavanaugh

Life is too short. And there is so much to do, so why would you fill it with things you didn’t enjoy and didn’t have to do?

I’m always reading stuff about how witches and vampires are so over and no one is reading that type of book anymore. So I’ve been trying to write other things and trying is the word because I have never got very far.

Life really is too short though and recently I read a post by Dyane Forde the author of Purple Morrow, her first book, which made me realise that there is absolutely no point putting time and effort in to a story that I don’t believe in. Especially when there is no guarantee that anyone will read it anyway.

So, life is too short and if I’m not enjoying my hobby there’s no point doing it anymore, is there?

A few weeks ago I dusted off the first draft of the witches and vampire book. I was ruthless. Scenes were cut down like leaves, unnecessary characters were left for dead and by the end I had a structured outline at my fingertips. Then I started to write. In first person, which I know is an acquired taste but I’m doing it for me now. And I love being back in Morgaine’s head and I love seeing her world, and I am so excited about where I am going to take her (yes, there will be sequels because my big dreams haven’t quite been quashed.)

And with Camp NANO now in progress there’s no reason not to get the rewrites/revisions done while I’m in the zone.

I also know feel that I have a story that I can use to help me build my brand, something else which has me lying awake in a cold sweat and night.

Of course the test is will I stay the distance? I’m excited now but can I stick to my plan? Let’s give it a go. Life’s too short and if you don’t try now you’ll never know, right? What does everyone else do? Are you fans of market research or do you write what you love?

Sharing a Guilty Pleasure

Today I have a confession to make.  My name is Deborah, and I read Regency Romances. Of all the folders on my Kindle the Regency Romance on is the biggest – it’s even entitled ‘oh dear’ as of all the romance genre I consider the Regency Romance to have the most fairy tale like quality due to the empire lines, tight breeches and a love that can even defy society, or Society in this case.

Still with over 40 books in my ‘oh dear’ folder the evidence suggests that I have gone well beyond the call of research for my own MS. So, ok, I enjoy reading them. Alright, I love reading them; I just don’t take paperbacks on the train. Some of those covers are far more provocative than the book’s actual content.

That’s why I cherish my Kindle. Behind that slick black exterior no one knows my reading habits.

That was until a recent journey. Without the visual clue of how far the book still had to go I finished sooner than expected, touched the screen only to be revealed with a promotion of the next book in the series.  Needless to say it was the cover of the next books in the series and it showed a stunning array of flesh.  I quickly put the screen saver on, thus banishing the treacherous image from sight.  Then I looked up, only to discover that the rather attractive young man in the seat next to me had been reading over my shoulder.

The height of rudeness! However being too embarrassed to show my displeasure I actually blushed.  Should women in there 30s blush? Or is that an activity reserved purely for the  debutante? In my confusion I actually changed seats at the next station – no small challenge in the midst of rush hour.

The way I see it, this is something that I have to accept about myself. Constantly checking for sneaky train readers is not practical and results in neck ache.  Either that or I just have to make myself read something less racy when in public.

Has anyone else got any else felt like they’ve committed a reading faux pas? Or what do you read as an indulgence?

IWSG – June

 

This month I’m focusing on my ‘to read’ pile.  The number of fiction books bulking it out are ones that I really would like to read, but I just can’t bring myself to open that first page.

They include, Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, The Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness, Stolen by Kelley Armstrong, Fated by Benedict Jacka and Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Lani Taylor. These are all books that I think hold elements of the story that I am trying to tell in my own WIP.  What if, I’m constantly asking, those books are just too good, or deal with the issues that I want to deal with much better than I ever could? These people who have ‘made it’ are giants and I really don’t feel able to scrape myself up to their level.

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When I sit and hold those satisfyingly real books I become aware of the uselessness of my heroine (constantly appearing to make stupid decisions), the weak rambling nature of my structure and the fact that my premise is one that no one will ever be enticed in to.

My particular terror at the moment is Throne of Glass as I know Sarah J Maas started out on Fictionpress which is where I first posted some early drafts.  When I compare her progress to mine it’s enough to make me curl up and start rocking. Honestly, what have I done with my life?

At some stage though I am either going to have to suck it up and read them, or just clear them out.   What do you think? How bad can it be? Has anyone out there read one of those books, or do you have a book of your own that taunts your own creative endeavours?

And if you’re am insecure writer who wants to share then follow the link to Alex J. Cavanaugh’s blog, http://alexjcavanaugh.blogspot.co.uk/p/the-insecure-writers-support-group.html

 

 

It’s All in the Name

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“Algie!” I cried, “Already?”

My boyfriend is not called Algie.  You can therefore understand his concern when I shouted another man’s name in bed.   Admittedly, I was reading and he was sleeping but that did not lessen his distress. The cause: the latest Regency Romance download on my Kindle. Page Six. Our alpha male hero was already insisting that he and the feisty heroine are on first name terms. Yes, Algernon Tightbottom, Six Earl of a Massive Estate in Devonshire wanted to be called ‘Algie’.  They hadn’t even had the anachronistic kiss yet!

I’m a traditionalist, I guess.  In my own Regency inspired WIP the heroine (feisty though she is) calls the hero by his title and surname.  He is always Mr Birling, even after the first kiss (anachronistic and illicit though it is).  I can’t bring myself to write it otherwise because in my head the reason Mr Darcy is so attractive is because he is Mr Darcy.  We never call him Fitzwilliam or, heaven forbid, Fitz. If we did the whole idea of him would be inadequate.

In the Regency etiquette and codes of behaviour governed courtship, and there were lots of them, including correct forms of address.  When you address Algie to his face he is ‘My Lord’.  It is unusual that a female he has picked up on the side of the road (and not paying) would even address him by the title that goes with that massive estate in Devonshire.  If you want to learn more about how to address an Earl go here 

I am not a complete kill joy and I do find it satisfying to see the heroine and hero negotiate their way to happily ever after by some times breaking the rules. Even the epitome of Regency heroines does it. In What Matters in Jane Austen, John Mullan writes that Elizabeth Bennet arriving at Netherfield with mud encrusted hems is a situation that would probably not happen. Young women did not go ‘scampering about the country because her sister has a cold,’ as Miss Bingley snidely remarks.  The improper behaviour therefore acts to define character because as Mullan insists, although Miss Bingley is correct, who would side with her against Elizabeth Bennet?

In the Kindle book however there did’t seem any particular reason for ‘My Lord’ to become ‘Algie’, not even to show him as a fun, laid back kind of rogue who can’t be bothered with all the rot of social behaviour.  These days, however, it seems to be quite the thing that first name terms are reached quickly. For propriety’s sake the heroine may insist on formalities to show that she can be a good girl when people are watching, but generally it doesn’t last long. Normally until that first anachronistic kiss.

It does seem like a rather inconsequential thing, especially in a download I paid less than a pound for. However,  I would argue that part of the attraction of the Regency Romance fairy tale world is the wit and ingenuity of the heroine (and sometimes hero) used to conquer the codes of etiquette as though they were dogs with eyes as big as saucers or bean stalks to be climbed.  The right to call Mr Darcy ‘Fitzwilliam’ has to be earned through trial, as does the privilege of calling Miss Bennet ‘Elizabeth’. In either case, if the liberty is given or taken too freely than the significance of the prize loses a great deal of sparkle, if not all of its titillation.

You may be wondering how my boyfriend reacted to all this.  Well, he listened with growing perplexity before laughing and going back to sleep. All things considered I think I got off lightly.

What are they Wearing?

There are quite a few articles about that recommend the tricks and methods writers can learn from the movies.  A couple can be found here, here and here.

This week though I’d like to scribble specifically about the costumes that characters have.  There is a really good website called Clothes on Film which talks about how the costume of characters in films tells the viewer information about them.

You may be thinking this isn’t very useful because you don’t have images in a book so the fine details aren’t really important.  I’d argue that a writer is prompting the reader to create their own visual image and therefore costumes can still really work to build a character, more so than information on hair colour, eye colour etc.  Although these things do help a great deal they are what the character has been ‘born’ with, not necessarily how they choose to present themselves.

This has all been in the forefront of my mind as ‘My Book’ is set in the Regency Period. That means that means learning a whole new set of cultural indicators that would have been obvious then but may not be apparent today.  Austen uses costume so subtly that you could miss it, but then she was writing at a time when her readers would be aware of social conventions and would automatically be able to fill in the blanks.  The implication that Frank Churchill would be in mourning dress while discussing his love for Jane Fairfax with Emma Woodhouse illustrates that black clothes do not always reflect the level of grief.

Some less than subtle details appear in Abercrombie’s The First Law Trilogy when Inquisitor Glokta is first encountered. He’s walking with his cane and a crippled leg.  The noises Abercrombie describes – the tap of the cane, the step of the healthy foot followed by the dragging of the ruined foot behind – is a really strong image that stays with you and is incorporated into the characters thought process to reveal the sort of person he is.  The cane itself also comes into its own in the last book as an important representation of his character and how that has changed over time.

Another example is in The Silver Pigs by Lindsey Davis.  The hero stands on the steps of the temple of Jupiter watching a young girl run towards him and the details of her bracelets, make up and hair all tell him she’s a rich young girl who wasn’t expecting to be sprinting through The Forum when she was dressed that morning.  The hero’s observation that the girl is wearing too many clothes also reveal his character to us.

Costume’s can also be symbolic of characters in books as well as in films. In Jim Butcher’s Fool Moon when the hero, Harry Dresden, looses his coat he consequently feels like less than himself until it can be replaced.

Costume changes are also important moments.  Hermione Granger getting beautified in The Goblet of Fire makes her friends see her in a new way.  Harking back to Abercrombie, when the practicals (the Inquisitor’s assistants) remove the masks covering the bottom half of their faces they become different people to those that are looking.  Or they can be grander, plot changing moments, when Gandalf completes his transition from grey to white.

Costume can reveal a myriad of information about characters, and not always the character that is doing the wearing.  The shush of a ball gown can also help to set the scene or define a character and make them more memorable in the reader’s imagination.

What do yours wear?

And if you want a freebie that I’ve found really useful for more general character development you can get an e-book from K.M Weiland’s blog here.

 

 

How to be a Transvestite (on paper)

One of the questions that crops up a great deal, at least on the writing websites that are dominated by young women, seems to be how to write convincing male characters.  Stepping in to an unknown world of life experience and cultural expectations is daunting. Young man biting his nails and pulling his hair over how to write female characters appear to be less common.   Although that probably has more to do with the websites I frequent.

While trying to come to terms with my own dose of paranoia on this issue the following were useful,

1) Talking to men helped.  Not necessarily launching in to full-scale interview of their most intimate life details. However, one of the key habits encouraged in writers is nosiness and general observation and chit-chat is harmless enough.  If you’re feeling brave also dip into men’s magazines. Take a pinch of a pinch of salt with you though.   GQ is about as representative of the male sex as Glamour is for women.  Relationship books also helped, but only so far as reassuring me that a male character would, by and large, feel exactly the same way about something as a female character would, although they would probably react differently.

2) Realising that it can be done. Some of my favourite male characters are written by women. I love Gideon Jukes and Orlando Lovell in Rebels and Traitors by Lindsey Davis. They are polar opposites but both interesting, detailed and full of life. On the other side Ardee West in Joe Abercrombie’s First Law Trilogy may not have much page time but she is as complex and vibrant as any of the men he writes.

3) By far the most obvious thing to remember though is that male characters are still just characters. They still need a goal, conflict and motivation to make them readable.  Sort that out and anything else is just decoration.

How about everyone else? Has anyone else had issues with something similar?

Hook, Line and Sinker – Why First Lines are Amazing!

 

First lines are one of the most brilliant things about reading and writing.  The first line is that magical boundary between two realities.  It can absorb you, encouraging you with every word to hang your disbelief up on the coat rack and cross over to another world.

 Yes, I really, really love that first line of a story.

 Most of you are writers and know all about the importance of the first line as a hook.  You probably also know that reading other people’s work is a good way to learn about the craft of writing.

 ‘Call me Ishmael’ – Moby Dick. Herman Melville

 I love this for the simplicity and the subtleties.  It’s still an invitation with something almost intimate implied. The use of ‘call me’ rather than ‘I am’ suggests an alias, and calls into question the integrity of the narrator before the book has even started.  The name Ishmael means ‘outcast’ or ‘wanderer’, something which Melville’s original readers would have been aware of. This fits snuggly with his need to take to the sea regularly. So much in three words!

 ‘It is a truth universally acknowledged that a single man with a large fortune must be in want of a wife.’ Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen.

I wish I could read this line for the first time again. I always hear the irony because I know it is not so much about the marriage habits of young men but what the mother of single daughters feel the marriage habits of young men should be.  If I saw it afresh today I don’t know if I’d love it as much as I do having read the book.

I can’t help thinking there is something almost flippant in the tone though. That a single man with a large fortune must be in want of a wife is not a universal truth, but only a truth universally acknowledged. Presumably not everyone, including the young man, would agree?

It also tells you instantly what the book is about.  There are going to be rich young men up for grabs and the whole book is about marriage and money.  Marriage is mentioned rather than love, so it is a book about social conventions, even though love does get to play a role. The length of the line and the way the words tumble off the tongue also sounds playful, light-hearted and I think that captures the essence of the statement.  However, I’m not quite sure that reading it in isolation fully conveys the irony that is instantly apparent when you continue to Mr and Mrs Bennet discussing the let of Netherfield.

Based on all that I’d like my first lines to set the tone of the book, raise questions that encourage the reader onwards, and perhaps be just a little bit quirky.  For the moment though there’s this to work with…

 When Juliet first saw Mr Birling she decided not to be impressed.

I’m not quite there yet.

Does anyone else have any first lines they love? Or that they are working on right now?

Share below.

And my internet will be back next week – so hopefully more visually interesting posts on the horizon!